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writing for godot

Tragedy Disguised: The Extinction of America's Last Wild Horses and Burros

Written by Monika Courtney   
Saturday, 14 January 2012 16:09
A story, long overdue to be told, reflects the survival plight of America's last wild horses and burros. The proof of their evolution in North America is evident thanks to the works and painstaking research such as Craig Downer’s, a nationally renowned wildlife ecologist who reveals their archeological and fossil evidence and how they contribute to both the ecosystem and humanity.

The very officials charged with their protection have over the course of decades inflicted grave injustices towards these magnificent icons on whose back this nation was built. Special interests have taken over the agenda and whole herds of wild horses have already been extinct, whilst cattle leases are taking over the very habitat assigned to our mustangs by the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Protection Act.

Mining, drilling and monopolized water control have played a significant role in pushing our last mustangs and burros into extinction. Fairy tales of range deterioration, forage depletion and starvation have greatly added to the deception tactics applied by those assigned to protect these equines. It is clear: the cruelty inflicted during these stampedes have shocked the nation with recent footage filmed by press members who not only have to fight for our mustang's survival, but their very own rights to be present near a round up to observe the “operations”... which unfortunately are being dismissed with the clever excuse of “safety issues”. Video footage of foals run to death, mares collapsing under helicopter and stallions breaking their necks... is not a benign affair and certainly the agency does not want you to see.

Most Americans do not know what is taken from them. The mustangs are evicted from their rightful range and our public lands are auctioned off to cattle use. Their damage has far more caused harm on the range, yet the few horses which are enhancing our ecosystem by keeping wildfires in check thru consumption of nutrient-poor, flammable grasses, herbs and shrubs for example - are being driven off by helicopter chases whose inhumane substandard have caused a public outrage. This administration is continuing the same secretive and destructive war on wild horses as Bush started - and Obama's promise on change rings hollow. BLM increases cattle to run on same public lands where they are removing horses, despite a congressional mandate to protect them. BLM ignores its federal mandate to remove livestock from federal horse management areas and if this continues, your grandchildren may never see a wild horse in the American West again. You, the American tax payers, are funding this gross injustice. The likely illegal continuance of these round ups is not only inhumane at best, but is challenged with litigation and increasing public pressure. It is a sad day, when the truth is cleverly disguised to benefit special interests and BLM keeps spending millions to quickly eradicate an irreplaceable piece of American history. Biased press coverage is no help either. The traumatizing of the horses is real; the suffering by cruel treatment a fact, the deaths and killings are not a fabricated John Grisham Thriller, but the story of the reality, which must be told. You and your grandkids deserve to know, and it is high times we do something before it is too late.

America's mustangs are the victims of a conspiracy, and you, the tax payer, the product of a scheme which not only uses your funds to sponsor this tragedy, but is fooling the American public into a major cover-up which affects us all. For more information, read Craig Downers latest book, which includes beautiful photos of wild horses and burros. The title is “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” and you can order it by contacting This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Help save and restore America's last wild horses and have pride in keeping them in the wild, on our public lands, where they belong. Thank you. your social media marketing partner


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-26 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-16 11:08
The title "The Extinction of America's Last Wild Horses and Burros" is hyperbole. It reminds me of the loggers, ranchers and miners who whine about *their* extinction at the hands of environmentalis ts. I hate to see the word "extinction" misused in such a fashion. It undermines science and biology, even with caveats and qualifications like "wild."

The horse and burro blood is FAR from extinct. The species exists around the world and is thriving, both here and abroad.

The subject horses and burros are no different from the Long Horn Cattle and Cheat Grass introduced by European man: They displace native flora and fauna and impede natural biodiversity on our public lands.

These feral animals should be removed (along with cattle, sheep and goats) so the "innocent" wildlife which they displace, some of which are TRULY in danger of REAL extinction, might have a fighting chance.
+7 # jerryball 2012-02-02 19:31
That well may be. But if we want to be THAT pure about it, we need to return the native Indians to their land while we self-import all of US. While the native and imported species wane, there is an enormous and multiplying quickly human overpopulation. Stop breeding or there will be a natural selection and mankind will kill himself off through starvation, etc. When the last tree is dead, the animals are gone, we will realize that we cannot live by just eating paper money.
+16 # Valerie Traina 2012-01-17 13:24
Ms. Courtney has hit the nail on the head. The BLM works at the behest of the ranchers and those who wish to exploit the land for its other resources, such as oil. The wild equines have been here for centuries and know how best to live in this ecosystem. Cattle, sheep and other domesticated animals are "exotic" in relation to the natural Western landscape. They destroy it while taxpayers subsidize the ranchers' leases. What kind of people are we to cruelly round up these magnificent horses and burros and traumatize and kill them? If most Americans knew what was occurring with these barbaric round-ups and with horse slaughter, they would be aghast. Please, people, get involved. Also, visit Thanks.
-24 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-17 16:40
Horses came over on Spanish ships with cattle, sheep and other domesticated animals; why are they not considered “exotic”?
These horses can be broken as any other domestic horse, why are they called “wild” instead of “feral”?
Cattle, sheep and other domestic animals have been here the same centuries as horses, yet they don't know how best to live in this ecosystem?
Should Long Horn Cattle be released to run “wild”, being equally a part of our western heritage, arriving along with the horses?
Horses run on different ecosystems, some which never supported horses since the Pleistocene. What do you mean by “this ecosystem”?
Could it be that cattle, sheep and other domestic animals destroy the landscape only because they are run at far too high a population density?
If all cattle, sheep and domestic animals where removed from the public lands, natural predators being returned, fences taken down, and with horses left to their own devices, what impact would naturally regulated horse populations have on ungulate and other species indigenous to the area? How about riparian areas and aquatic flora and fauna?
In that case, what arguments are made for horses vs native ungulates which ranchers don't make for cattle vs native ungulates?
Are horse supporters akin to cattle supporters *vs native animals*?
If horses out-compete other fauna to extinction, would you support human intervention, or would you allow nature to “take it’s course”?
+11 # MonikaCourtney 2012-01-18 01:44 1990-91 GAO( Government Accounting Office ) study proved the millions of cattle over-grazed the range and destroyed riparian areas and not the few thousand wild horses.Also the estimated population using BLM numbers at revised by Carla Bowers11/6/11-- more wh's have been removed since--only may be 18,000 are still free.43,000 in holding that should be returned to HA's and HMA's. WhH's and burros have lost 22.2 million acres, over 100 HA's/HMA's have been zeroed out.Also DNA studies have proven the wh's native. Horses, specifically wild horses are not "livestock." They are literally a returned native wildlife species,the only one having a unanimously passed Act of Congress guaranteeing their protection (or attempting to) under the federal law of this country. The La Brea Tar Pits in southern California are a veritable treasure trove of fossils and bones of animals who, over thousands of years, got sucked into the tar which waits quietly under the seemingly innocuous water and perished. The facility displays amazing skeletons and displays of mastodons, sabre toothed tigers, and wild horses, one of many such places evidencing that horses did in fact evolve in North America and are a wildlife species native to our land.
Ancient DNA reveals late survival of mammoth and horse in interior Alaska
+12 # MonikaCourtney 2012-01-18 01:57
Recently the Yukon horse that originated almost 2 million years ago in and was present in much of N. America a.k.a. Equus lambei was analyzed by geneticists and found identical w. the modern horse Equus caballus.More recent soil samples from Camp Stevens/Alaska showed both horse/mammoth were present in N. America ca 7,000 years ago.The fossil record is abundant and proofs that all three branches of the horse family now extant had their origin and long standing evolutionary development upon the North American continent.The genus and the very species of the modern horse originated and had its evolution in N. America.Many scapegoat them for damages that people,not horses/equids,h ave committed.As the only large non-ruminant herbivores, these equids replace a major missing piece within our continent's ecological jigsaw puzzle.They possess a post-gastric digestive system which signifies that their droppings fertilize the soils and pass many more seeds intact for germination when compared with ruminant droppings,or feces. They are true gardeners of the ecosystem, restorers and healers thereof.They complement rather than detract from the native life community in N. America and are "returned North American natives".
+10 # MonikaCourtney 2012-01-18 02:07
Kirkpatrick, J.F. & Fazio, P.M. 2008 (May). Ecce Equus. American Museum of Natural History. Let's come up to speed with modern knowledge and leave behind unfounded/biase d views of the magnificent horse,its genus,and its place in this world, including in its very cradle of evolution.
-Are you a pro hunting and fishing guy with status quo supporters ?
- What are your bases to dismiss the legitimate, profuse evidence, when historic facts, DNA findings and increased acknowledgement s/tributes within the scientific community proof otherwise ? I suggest you Google Craig Downer.He is a nationally renowned wildlife ecologist. Is your stance an attempt to advertise that all wild horses and burros should be removed, like Russian Olive Trees? The word feral is a misnomer. Also, see this link on the genus Equus:
Here the work of renowned wildlife ecologist Craig Downer: A startling discovery by a young CA.boy has helped fill a key gap in the evolution of the horse. Gavin Sutter, aged eight, from Auburn, found the prehistoric bones of a horse dating back 15 million years.
-17 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-18 10:25
1. I am a pro hunting and fishing guy, but I am definitely NOT a status quo supporter. I'd like to see ALL domestic animals, including the feral horses and burros, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs (think about pigs and their evolutionary history too), and etc. removed from all public land; no new mining, dams, logging, roads, etc.; combined with an effort to reestablish a pre-Columbian state of affairs.
2. I dismiss your evidence because it is irrelevant. I can stipulate to its correctness (horses evolved here, so what) WITHOUT making the illogical leap to their reestablishment AFTER their EXTINCTION from here. I would no more want T-Rex or Colombian Mammoths running around on the public lands, even if we could. What you fail to understand is Nevada now is not the Nevada that existed when the horses were here in the Pleistocene. In other words, when you say “here” you say too much. The here which is here is NOT the here where the horses evolved and has not been for thousands of years, most PARTICULARLY in Nevada. You need only look at Giant Sloth shit to figure that out.
3. I don't know about Russian Olives, but yes, my stance is that all horses and burros and, well, see paragraph # 1, above.

To be continued:
-14 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-18 10:40
I can also stipulate to your argument regarding cattle; the evils of the BLM and Ranchers, etc. I can also stipulate that Horses, LIKE CATTLE, if maintained at low to moderate population levels, can exist without totally fucking the place up. HOWEVER, there is a thing called physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every single cow and every single horse consumes something that might have been consumed by something that did NOT go extinct here and which IS truly native to this land NOW, at THIS time. To that extent and to the extent ANY of those native animals and their naturally fluctuating ecosystem are/is not what it would be but-for our interference, then we need to protect them in any way possible.
-12 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-18 10:41
As a hunter, I am more than willing to, and have indeed have given up my opportunity to kill a prey species for the benefit of a wolf, a cat or any other missing piece of the puzzle, if only to get the puzzle back together. Besides, I don’t hunt to kill. Rather, I kill to have hunted, and if there is one thing I can’t stand it’s “hunting” in a place with missing pieces of our NATURAL heritage (grizzly, wolf, etc.). You end up with a glorified zoo or some imitation wild land.

I am a bison freak. I want them returned to our public lands. Did you know they used to be indigenous to the Nevada country also? But did you know they went extinct there thousands of years ago also? (There were a few spotty locations on the fringes but not worth discussing here.) That is because Nevada is NOT bison country. It hasn’t been since the horse was there, in the PLEISTOCENE! Bison belong in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, maybe some parts of Easter Idaho, etc. but I damn sure don’t champion their return to place where Mother Earth gave them the boot.

I’ve read all the stuff about how bison hooves massage the soil, and how they are easier on the land, and etc. and I see the horse people jumping on all that science in an effort to justify the return of an animal that does NOT belong in Nevada. It saddens me.
-12 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-18 11:27
Here is an interesting article which basically stipulates to all your arguments regarding evolution ("recent" presence; 7,000 years ago, etc). Nevertheless, extinction occurred. They were gone for thousands of years and those who lasted longest were not in the areas of public land where the feral horses are now.

A follow-on argument from you might be that humans were responsible for that extinction, so we should undo that mistake. The answer to that is:

1. Unlikely (see the article); and
2. It doesn't matter, since it was prior to domestication of species and natural.

Here is the link to the article:

I am going to cede the floor to you. I have been spending WAY too much time on the internet and have to get back to other areas of my life.

Thanks for the argument. It's been fun.
+11 # MonikaCourtney 2012-01-18 22:33
Thank you Huck. The debate could go on, yet I prefer to spend time to educate others in the dark, such as the author of the WSJ article below was. The curator of the American Museum of Natural History addressed it. You might want to share this with others, since it is plain english and not that hard to understand.
Best of luck, M.

Education is a never ending road. While being open minded is a good attribute, being honest is another. I think the curator of the American Museum of Natural History in New York knows what others so vehemently deny: The status of the wild horse is native to North America, there are no paleontological or genetic grounds for concluding that it is native to any other continent.
From a scientific standpoint, it is completely irrelevant that native horses died out in North America 10,000 years ago, or that later populations were domesticated in central Asia 6000 years ago. Such considerations have no bearing on their status as having originated on this continent.
+5 # jerryball 2012-02-02 19:35
Pretty near-sighted there, Pilgrim. You are preaching to the wall. I contend we humans are the true parasites on this land. We're breeding us and the earth into expelling us pronto.
-15 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-18 11:38
One last point: IF horses did belong here, I would be the first to champion their return. I would also want to hunt them.
+5 # MonikaCourtney 2012-01-18 02:14
+14 # WildHorseProtectionActFB 2012-01-17 13:25
Powerful truth. Please rise up, survival of our wild horses/burros and our/their land and water is at stake. Well written article, thank you for being the voice of reason.
+8 # coati 2012-01-19 21:18
This debate reminds me of a recent long exchange about the wolf in Idaho. As you may know, the vehemence against wolves in WY, ID, and MT is something akin to a fundamentalist Jihad. The occurrence of aerial killing against any species: wolves, burros, wild horses is galling and without fair chase or mercy. The root of human to animal and human to environment debacles is (my opinion) rooted in the deeply ingrained belief that the world is to be dominated, 'our oyster'. This is a Judeo-Christian belief and is pandemic, eurocentric, and unchecked to this day. Corporate destruction of the environment is just another variety of this greed.
Since the first whites left the East, during the Manifest destiny era, the West has been a conundrum of historical
massacres and cruelty to Indigenous people and the native species (like the bison, beaver,) and any creature that competed with cattle in any way. Cattle consume and destroy too much land for the meat they provide, especially in the west where the land is not particularly productive. Cattle are not a self-sustaining commodity. So the burros, wild horses, and wolves of the west, for different reasons are scapegoats. That federal hunters are paid to shoot them from planes and helicopters is sickening. What is more sickening is that men will do it without hesitation. It is important to follow these atrocities, document, and upload to youtube ( while it's still on the web? ) and keep the pressure on.

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